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How do I change a custody arrangement?

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2022 | Child Custody

After the prolonged and often complex negotiations surrounding divorce are finished, California couples are free to move on with their lives. This may look like a different career, lifestyle, or even location. Such changes can alter the terms of the divorce, however, and lead to complications that may require a post-decree modification.

Where there are children involved, custody and parenting time arrangements are designed to provide a framework of consistency that will provide safety and emotional security to children who are adjusting to this new normal. If one parent’s circumstances change substantially, however, this can complicate their ability to maintain this consistence presence in their children’s lives.

Whether it is a move across town or to a different state, such changes may alter the balance of the original court order and require a modification of the divorce decree. For couples in Los Angeles County and surrounding areas, it is important to find out the steps for changing or enforcing a custody order.

What is involved with change a custody order?

Any modification of a court order involving custody, the terms of visitation, or child support, will always factor in what is in the best interests of the child. If the parents can discuss life changes and, if possible, agree to a solution, this can make the process for obtaining a modification more likely.

But, when the parents cannot agree, the parent seeking the change will have to file a petition, possibly schedule mediation with the other party, and arrange a court hearing where they will have to present reasons for the request that:

  • demonstrate a change in circumstances that is significant enough to necessitate a new court order
  • argue that the change is for the purpose of continuing to provide a stable and consistent custody and visitation arrangement that is in the best interests of the children

Do parents have the right to move the child?

In California, a parent with sole custody has the right to move the child unless such an action would negatively impact the child’s welfare or rights. When the court considers any move-away request, it will place the child’s needs above any inconvenience or difficulty to the parent that a relocation would cause.

If the other parent objects, it will be up to them to prove to the court in a scheduled hearing that the move would not be in the child’s best interests. If the parents share joint physical custody, however, it will be up to the parent requesting the move to show that the move serves the best interests of the child.